Poker

The Poker-Playing Footballers Who Could Win Big After Retiring

Footballers live lavish lifestyles, many with little to no financial worry. Their focus is on the field, and they deal with pressure every time they play. That pressure brings huge rewards, and not just financial.


Footballers live lavish lifestyles, many with little to no financial worry.

Their focus is on the field, and they deal with pressure every time they play. That pressure brings huge rewards, and not just financial. Scoring a goal in front of 60,000 people must be exhilarating and hard to replicate. Every week, they train hard, putting in hours on the pitch and in the gym for that moment on a Saturday afternoon when they might be the hero.

If a player gets injured or retires, it can be hard to replicate that high. Some go into coaching and management to find success, while others take a wholly different route. Jimmy Kebe played for Lens, Real Mallorca, and Reading in his career but was forced to finish early through injury. He later found another calling; poker. His journey took him from dressing room to casino, and he’s not looked back.

He’s not the only one; Teddy Sheringham, the scorer of the first Manchester United goal in their 2-1 1999 Champions League win against Bayern Munich, turned to poker after he finished. Steve Watts was a journeyman in the English leagues but became a key figure on the WPT Tour, whilst Danish midfield Thomas Gravesen is believed to have won €92m in a single game. Niklas Bendtner, another Dane who appeared for Arsenal and Juventus, also enjoyed a few hands now and again.

They’ve all had success at the end of their careers, but what of those playing now who may go on and enjoy the same? We’ve selected four-of-a-kind footballers who may be stars of the felt once their boots get hung up for good.

Max Kruse

Image Credit: Heynckesjupp, Kruse1, CC BY-SA 4.0



Kruse has had a modest international career, bagging four goals in 14 international appearances for his country. He’s currently plying his trade with Wolfsburg, having also featured for FC St Pauli, Borussia Monchengladbach and Werder Bremen. However, the 34-year-old is closing in on retirement, and when he does, he may have poker to fall back on.

He’s a keen fan of the card game and once won €34,722 at a World Series of Poker event in Berlin. However, he may need to keep himself a little sharper than previously; Wolfsburg once warned him about his conduct after losing €75,000 winnings in the back seat of a taxi. That moment also cost him his place in the Germany squad, which he never got back.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Image Credit – Ruben Ortega, Cristiano Ronaldo ante el Celta de Vigo, CC BY-SA 4.0

There’s no doubt Ronaldo is one of the greatest players to have ever stepped foot on a field; he’s won titles in England, Italy, and Spain and bagged a host of individual accolades, such as the Ballon d’Or. He will not need a career outside of football when he finishes; his brand and business interests mean he’ll be set for life. As he’s now closing in on 40-years-old, it’s likely the end will come soon, and when it does, he may chase the highs of the beautiful game around a poker table.

Ronaldo is an ambassador for a major poker brand but is partial to a game. He’s described by Poker.org as a keen fan of poker, one of several high-profile athletes to enjoy cards. Some get their love from long bus journeys (or flights) to away games; others enjoy the thrill of the battle as they do on the field. It’s not clear where Ronaldo’s love of poker comes from, but he’s certainly a keen fan.

Neymar

Image Credit: Кирилл Венедиктов, Bra-Cos (1) (cropped), CC BY-SA 3.0

Neymar is one of those footballers you know is good but doesn’t always manage to show it. He’s always enjoyed the wilder side of life, parties, and having fun, and perhaps aligns more with the original Ronaldo than the current Portuguese star. All three have one thing in common; poker. Brazilian Ronaldo has often played in big tournaments, and we’ve told you about Cristiano. Well, Neymar is a big poker fan. SportBible.com report he wants to become a poker professional when he finishes playing. He’s so invested in the game that he even named his pet dog ‘Poker’.

He still has time left on the field, and he’ll be hoping to add some serious silverware to his collection; despite his standing as the world’s most expensive player, he has just one international trophy to his name (Federations Cup) and one Champions League (Barcelona 2015).

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